Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 2 - Dishonored

Dishonored is game two of the seven games in seven days I played over the Christmas 2012 holidays.


I played Dishonored and Deus Ex back to back. My main concern with Deus Ex was execution in gameplay. Luckily, Dishonored knocked this one out of the park.

Balancing quality of game features versus scope of game features is one of the major challenges of game dev. Deus Ex favored the more features more options approach, while Dishonored kept scope tightly under control but executed at higher quality. Despite a smaller scope game options in Dishonored like completing games undetected, and without killing anyone, helped make the player feel like they had real choice in how they play. Smart game development in my opinion.
The combat in Dishonored also  feels really solid. The stealth feels a little old school and not super innovative – but it’s solid and that’s what’s really important. Graphics are very good. Story was compelling and surprised me.

So dishonored is fun, polished, and you should play it. Of all the games I played over the break this is the one I’m most excited about returning to.

Dishonored gets the Christina 2012 award for – Game I Most Want To Keep Playing

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Game One - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

This is game one of the seven games in seven days I played over the Christmas 2012 holidays

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I felt torn by Deus Ex. It has incredible artistic style. The cutscenes and writing are good, as are the thematics. I appreciate the fact that the game tries to let the player solve problems in a variety of ways. I know firsthand from working on the Mass Effect series how hard it is to give players meaningful choices in how they develop their characters that effect how they solve problems in the game.

Despite all these positive aspects - the game has issues.

Perhaps it’s because I worked on Mass Effect which is also a sci-fi RPG, with shooter combat, that I find it hard to overlook flaws in how Deus Ex is executed. The shooting feels clunky. The HUD is awkward particularly the in-game item highlighting. AI feels unpolished. These are all criticisms I would also direct at Mass Effect – which is why I worked so hard to fix those issue in ME2 & ME3.

In the end I found these issues distracting enough that I chose to put down Deus Ex pretty early to focus on other games. I may return, but if I do I’ll probably turn combat down to easy, so I can rush through the combat and enjoy the story, level design, and progression mechanics which seem to be really well done.

One last thing - I would have liked to see more early exploration of the protagonist's feelings about being cybernetically augmented against his will. Perhaps this happens later in the story, but he seems to take it too easily.

Deus Ex gets the Christina 2012 award for – Most Ambitious

Seven games in Seven Days

 I wanted to use some of Christmas break to catch up on video games I didn't have time to play over the year. I set myself the following goal - play seven games in seven days.

I figured it would be interesting to have my followers on twitter give input into which games I should play, so I did a quick survey. Here are the results.

I played six of the top seven games. Unfortunately I had some technical problems with Borderlands 2, so I substituted in The Walking Dead which should have been on my list anyway!

I didn’t complete all of these games, I played them long enough to get a feel for the overall design. This is pretty typical for game designers, we’d love to complete every game we play, but it’s more important to widely survey a bunch of games. Here are my quick thoughts from most voted to least.

Over the next week I’m going to post one mini-review each day talking about my experience with each of these games. Each game will also get an award for whatever struck me most about that game. We’ll call these awards The Christinas :P

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